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The car is Aurora, chassis #151;

one of about 163 Cobra variants made

in Richmond, Ontario, Canada in

1984. I bought it in 1987 with 24,000

miles on it. During the first years of

ownership, encountering a “real” AC

Cobra made me wish I had one of

those, but over the years that feeling

passed as I found this car is appreci-

ated for what it is, an easy-to-drive,

comfortable, street car and a well-

made one. It now has 119,500 miles on

it and is ready for another 100,000. I

would have bought an original 289

Cobra if I could have afforded one at

the time, but I’m not sure I would have

enjoyed it more. Certainly I could not

now because 289 Cobras have become

so valuable and are not so robust or

easy – or inexpensive – to repair.

Aurora Cars used new compo-

nents available in the 1980s that were

required by the U.S. EPA and DOT to

legally manufacture and import new

cars into the United States and sell

them both direct and through new car

dealerships. The car resembles a 289

Cobra, but is different underneath

where a dual-plane space frame is sus-

pended independently by adjustable

coil overs. Possibly the world’s shortest

drivetrain ends with a Salisbury rear,

as used in Jaguars and Corvettes of

the era, with inboard rear brakes sim-

ilar to an E-Type Jag. The body is

hand-laid fiberglass epoxied to the

frame. It makes a robust package that

doesn’t flex as much as you might ex-

pect, and has held up well to stress

over use and time.

I replaced the original Mustang

302 GT HO, with a 5.0 motor I built up

from a stock, junkyard bottom end, a

set of aluminum heads, custom made

Tri-Y headers and a Holley carburetor.

It is no longer one of the fastest cars

on the road as it was when I installed

this motor in 1993, at an honest 2,300

lbs. with 290 horsepower to the rear

wheels on a chassis dyno. It’s fast

enough to be fun. Since the front end

weighs only 1,025 lbs. it turns in like

the light front end car that it is.

Aurora fabricated wishbones for

the rear with Mustang II upper arms

and Mustang lower control arms in

the front. The advantage of this com-

bination of unequal length control

arms is an excellent camber curve that

makes for great road-holding. Bits and

pieces that wear out, like bushings,

bearings, and ball joints were replaced

a few years ago, whether they needed

replacing or not. It’s a sweet-handling

little car that accelerates and corners

fast enough to get you in trouble or

just have fun.

I enjoyed more than 15 years of

track driving the car. It wouldn’t win

any vintage races, even though I can

be entered now that so many valuable

original cars no longer come to the

tracks, but I suppose I could enter it

as a “tribute car.” Now 32 years old, it

is vintage. I drive to the track, run it

there and drive home, just like they

did in the old days. I go on all-day

tours like this one and on several day

tours with no drama. That’s more than

I think I deserve from a car that cost

so little to buy and drive. I remember


Summer 2016 84